Anyone living with electricity by now has seen or heard of Susan Boyle’s audition for Britain’s Got Talent.  While everyone agrees that Susan Boyle has a magnificent singing voice, so does Season 8 American Idol contestant, Adam Lambert.  One difference between the two is that Adam is young attractive and eloquent, while Susan is middle-aged simple and frumpy.

Just because you’re not pretty or sexy doesn’t mean that you can’t sing, and just because you’re pretty and sexy doesn’t mean that you can….

So what does this have to do with email marketing?

That’s an easy question to answer.  There always seems to be more focus on the pretty & sexy side of email marketing – the pretty pictures and fluffy words – than on the frumpy & mundane side of email marketing, like putting the pieces together and making it work….

Oh, sure, deliverability gets some attention, too.  That’s because what good are the pretty pictures and fluffy words if nobody sees them?  You might as just as well be singing to yourself in the shower….

Now, I’m not knocking the pretty pictures and fluffy words, but they are only part of the equation – after the concept, they are the beginning; not the end. 

What’s behind that pretty message and compelling copy?  Well, there’s message coding and all of the best practices that go with it.  The links have to be placed in the message, and if you’re not tracking those links you’re just sending email to send email.  After all, you can’t manage what you can’t measure

And then there’s all of the other stuff that needs to be measured, like bounces, deliverability, complaints, Feedback Loops, opt-outs, list growth retention & attrition, conversions, renders/opens, revenues, margins, deployment costs, and we haven’t even started talking about deployment data. 

What, if any, unique segments will the message be sent to?  What data is required for personalization and/or dynamic content insertion?  Where does the data come from?  Is it provided by DBA, or is it contained in the email tool already?  Is all of the required data available, and if not how will missing data be accommodated for?  

What about other little nuances and quid pro quos that are part of the physical development, like testing, user-case scenarios, call center and customer service staffing to meet SLAs, and whatever else may be pertinent to the business and its email channel objectives and its integration with other marketing initiatives?

All of these things don’t spontaneously happen just because you’ve got a cool message design and compelling content, and they don’t happen with the snap of a finger.  There is a lot of thought, planning, and process that goes into email marketing beyond what you want to say, how you want to say it, and what you want it to look like.

And that’s just a glance at some of the more frumpy and mundane parts of email marketing.  It’s not sexy or glamorous, and is often scoffed at as the eyes of the pretty people roll.  Unlike Susan Boyle’s audition, there are no standing ovations or self-reflection on first impressions.  Nope, nobody cares so long as what’s on stage is pretty….

So the next time you’re planning a killer email program, or even just a simple campaign, stop and apprecate the beautiful music beneath the surface….